What It’s Like To Be Super Pregnant

Tick tock… tick tock… I’m 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant and I’m ready to give birth. But babies don’t quite work that way. They don’t come when you want just because you want them to. They do their own thing. After my loss, I never thought I’d say I was ready to be done with pregnancy, but because I now find myself in a “safe zone” (a baby is basically full-term between 37-40 weeks), I am more ready than ever to just birth and meet him.

Being this pregnant is like studying all semester for an important final exam, but the date keeps getting pushed back. Your professor is suddenly sick. Then they have to go out of town. You finally show up when the TA is going to give the test instead, but then there’s a problem with the printer so the test is cancelled yet again. You wake up another morning, ready to go, but realize it’s Sunday. Then for some reason, the school has to shut down for a week. And so on, and so forth.

Every day, I wake up wondering if today is the day. Sometimes I wake up with contractions and wonder if they’ll continue, but they don’t. I know it’s still early and I technically have another 2.5 weeks to go till my estimated due date, but it’s difficult to keep going on with my regular life when I have a baby looming over my head (and pressing down on my bladder, and making it difficult to do much or move much). It’s a real exercise in patience, which I suppose is a good precursor for, well, parenthood and the rest of my life.

I haven’t really been much of a writer these past few weeks. I was feeling pretty ambitious after NaNoWriMo about finishing my first draft of my book before the baby came, but didn’t quite account for how badly pregnancy brain would take over. It’s been nearly impossible for me to think about anything except the baby (and my doctor’s appointments, and what hospital to deliver at, and what ways I can prepare my body for the big day, and all the things we need for the baby before he gets here, and what to name the baby, and what are the best positions for labor, and getting a doula and then switching doulas, and the safest diaper brands, and the least toxic baby products, and how to breastfeed properly, and and and you get the point). It may be that some moms don’t experience this as much because they are doing other things and/or they’re not the research junky that I am. I’m actually putting all my college research experience to use in finding out everything I feel I need to know to be prepared for this baby (while simultaneously realizing I won’t ever be 100% ready). The research does help ease some of the anxieties, though.

As far as doing anything else but spacing out on social media and reading baby books, my body is becoming less and less cooperative the bigger this belly gets. It’s more and more difficult to sit in any position comfortably for more than 5 minutes. It’s hard to walk around sometimes, and then not bumping into things is also a challenge. I can’t really bend over anymore (I can sometimes squat down to pick things up, but by this point I usually ask someone else or say fuck it and leave it where it is). My back hurts, my sides hurt, and everything else kinda hurts, too. My feet and ankles are finally beginning to swell up, which is strange for me as I’ve always had very slender feet. My belly is finally beginning to develop a few of those stretch marks everyone talks about, which wouldn’t be quite so bad were they not so damn itchy.

And did I mention I have to pee every three seconds and sometimes have to return to the bathroom two or three or four times after I’ve gone just to finish emptying the rest of my bladder? And how sometimes I’ll go and try but then the baby will move, easing the pressure off my bladder so I no longer have to go, only to jump back on my bladder once I’ve walked a far enough distance away from the bathroom to think twice about returning?

Because I’m currently unemployed, I don’t see many people these days. I miss my friends. I miss hearing about their lives. Pregnancy, and especially the end of pregnancy, kind of disconnects you from all that, and it seems it’s especially true between yourself and your non-childbearing friends. People end up asking you about the pregnancy and the baby and how you’re feeling and it’s all great, but sometimes you just want to hear a funny story about how your friend got drunk at a bar and proceeded to make an ass out of themselves karaoke-style or something, but this whole pregnancy brain thing just ends up making you talk about the baby and the pregnancy anyway and there goes that. Plus you realize it’s been months since you had a good beer and how it’ll be months before you really get to enjoy another one on your own terms (and not just between feedings, sipping a half-pint of Guinness silently in a corner of the house, hoping it’s out of your system before it’s time to feed the baby again… at least, I assume that’s how my first beer-drinking moment will probably go).

But that’s okay. I mean, for all my complaints about these final days/weeks, it’s been a wild adventure. I’m more excited than ever about pregnancy and childbirth, to the point that I’m even considering becoming a doula in the future (or becoming some kind of childbirth advocate/activist). I’ve even begun thinking about going to grad school for a WGS degree and focusing on pregnancy and childbirth. What was once kind of scary and gross to me is insanely fascinating to me now. And you know I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some feminist parenting books. I’ve already begun meeting lots of feminist and natural parenting folks online and it’s made me super excited to find people who share my interests and don’t subscribe to the same kind of parenting ideologies and attitudes I seem to find around me here.

For now, though, I wait. And wait and wait and wait.

And while I do feel like this little one in the mornings as I attempt to rock and roll out of bed:

Turtle

It could always be worse:

From Babble.com

From Babble.com

Letters to My Son: The Stitch That May Have Saved Your Life

Hey baby boy,

Sometime in September, I had a pretty bad scare. Your dad and I went in for yet another cervical check ultrasound when the technician noticed my cervix was getting shorter than the doctors would like. We’d been checking it practically weekly since you were 16 weeks in-utero since we weren’t sure if “incompetent cervix” was the reason we lost your big sister in 2012 (By the way, I really hate that term. It reeks of blame; but that’s a whole other topic). Dr. M had told us she didn’t want to see it shorten past 2.5cm, and when the other doctor came to look at the monitor, he noticed I was down to 2.3cm. Since I’d been steadily progressing to shorter and shorter, he suggested I get an emergent cerclage, which is basically a stitch to hold the cervix together and prevent dilation/effacement so you can stay in for longer than the doctors think you might. Some women have cerclages placed early on when they’re sure IC was to blame for their pre-term labor, but we decided to wait. The risk in waiting, though, is it might shorten too quick, and emergent cerclages are only 40-60% successful while regular cerclages are 80-90% successful.

Now, I should add that we lost your sister Maggie in September of the previous year, and we were reaching about the same time in my pregnancy that we lost her. Suffice to say we were both a mess. All we wanted was for time to fast forward so we could finally meet you and hold you and protect you. Goodness knows we’ll be on edge the rest of our lives trying to make sure you are okay.

We went straight to Dr. M’s office and she suggested we go straight to the triage for observation. If my cervix didn’t lengthen enough overnight, we should highly consider the cerclage. Your dad and I spoke with several doctors for the next two days, trying to figure out what the best plan of action would be. They all seemed to think the cerclage would do more good than harm and that it was the best course to take in order to potentially save your life. My only other alternative would be bed rest, which hasn’t been studied enough, and which might cause other problems (gestational diabetes, muscular atrophy, etc.) My sister-in-law went on bed rest for about 4 months with her twin daughters and I’d seen first hand how rough it could be to just lie in bed for months on end. We decided in the end to go with the cerclage.

The doctor performing the procedure was apparently an old pro. At least, that’s what they said. Thinking back, it could’ve all been horse shit but hearing praise about the doctor’s work probably helped us stay positive for the procedure. Dr. M was there too, which I appreciated, as was a slew of other doctors and med students. I went in Monday morning, got a spinal (which is like an epidural, and which I seriously did not enjoy), and soon enough I was staring at the ceiling of the operating table, discussing my anthropology major with the anesthesiologist, a young Asian woman with a kind smile who kept me calm throughout.

After the procedure, I felt fine, but some hours into being stuck in the recovery room (more like recovery zoo), I fell into some pain. I needed to pee but still hadn’t regained the feeling in my legs, and not even a bed pan would do the trick. You know, writing this, you’re probably thinking this is way too much information about your mother. You’re probably right, but I want to raise you to not be squeamish and for us to be as open with each other as possible, so there it is. Anyway, I was in terrible pain for the next few hours until I was finally allowed to my room and given the privacy I needed to do what I needed to do (you try peeing on a bed pan in a noisy recovery room with a woman throwing up to the left of you and nurses who don’t seem to give a fuck about helping you out).

I went home two days later and went on bed rest for the next couple of weeks. It was difficult, but I kept telling myself this wasn’t forever, which is really wasn’t. My family wanted me to stay in bed for fear of me losing you, but I was determined to regain my strength so I could be active once it came time for labor months down the line. I knew it was the best for you. It was scary to walk around at first, but now I do it all the time. I’m still nowhere near as active as I’d like to be, but I do okay and I’m sure I’ll be able to give birth to you the way I hoped, to be an active participant rather than a bed-ridden observer (though obviously if medical emergency arises, I’ll just be happy to have you in my arms at the end of it all).

It’s 6:47 a.m. and once your late-as-always father gets out of the shower, we should be making the trek across the county to have this stitch removed. They say only 5% of women go into labor shortly after having the stitch removed. I’m kinda hoping you decide to stay and cook just a little longer, but you’re probably as stubborn as your parents and will come when you bloody well please. That’s okay. I’m just excited to finally see the finish line ahead. It’s been an insane 36 weeks and 6 days. I know it’s annoying when parents say you won’t know until you’ve been there, but that shit is true. I used to think I had an idea of what it might be like to have kids, but I had no goddamn clue. Reproducing isn’t for everyone, but if you ever decide to have kids of your own, I hope your experiences aren’t nearly as chaotic as ours have been. I hope things for you are much, much easier, but I know I can’t control that. Mostly, I hope that if you do decide to have kids, that it changes your life for the better like you’ve already changed mine. We can’t wait to meet you, little dude. You have no idea what you’re in for, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome for the three of us.

Love,

mom.

Planning Out My Birth Experience

36 weeks and 3 days pregnant. It seems like a dream that we’ve gotten this far. But here I am, heavily pregnant, with back aches and anxiety, and waddling about. To those who have had easy pregnancies, and multiple, easy pregnancies, this might not seem like such a big deal, but anyone who’s experienced a pregnancy or child loss knows how incredible this feels. It’s just not that simple for some of us.

I’ve become pretty fixated on planning out what I’d like this new birth experience to be like. I research and research. I practice breathing and meditating and prenatal yoga on occasion. I’ve eaten right (for the most part). I get lots of rest. I ask question after question. I inquire because I know no one is going to give me information unless I persist. I take the blinders off because I know better than to automatically trust people, be they medical professionals or friends or relatives or anyone. I don’t let myself get dissuaded when my opinions are unpopular. I’m beginning to see how lonely motherhood is going to be at times, but how much I’ll enjoy giving the very best of me to my son.

I’m in the process of finalizing my birth plan. For those who’ve never heard of this, it’s basically a document (a statement, a checklist, whatever) of things you would LIKE to have happen at your birth (options you would like to be given, things you would like to avoid, general preferences). It would be so simple… if only hospital birth were so simple. But the more I learn about standard hospital birth, the more things I find go against everything I feel is right about the birth of my second child.

My first birth experience was awful. Aside the fact that I was extremely pre-term (second trimester), and that I was so terrified my heart rate was faster than the baby’s (about 188), I felt completely at a loss. I had absolutely no control and put all my faith in a bunch of strangers (my medical team) in hopes they would call all the right shots. I was forced to sign my rights away from the start, under a state of distress, because there was no time to waste. I had not prepared, nor had I learned anything about what it was like to labor and birth. Everything went into hyperdrive.

Hooked up to an IV, given drugs I hadn’t requested or been asked as to whether or not I approved, and then after all the pushing, seeing my little girl thrown into a box, surrounded by her own medical team, and carted away, only to be seen alive again once more for a couple of minutes before hearing the news the next morning of her death. Knowing that she died alone, that she never once got to feel my touch, premature as she was, eats away at me. I will never get that time again.

Now that I have my son on the way, I want to do things differently. Some people understand this and are encouraging of my stance. Others seem to think I am unreasonable, or that I have unreasonable expectations. I tell everyone the same thing: I understand things might not go according to plan, but it doesn’t mean I can’t try. I don’t really understand why so many mothers are so negative about the birth experience, about setting your sights high. Perhaps because they were let down by their own experiences, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Still, it constantly feels like other mothers, even good friends, while having the best intentions, seem to have very little on the positive spectrum to say. And more often than not, I hear people tell me that because I “don’t know” what I’m in for, that I might still want drugs by the time I hit transition. I wonder if they realize the extent of the pain I’ve already endured, not only from vaginally birthing my own daughter sans epi, but also from losing her, and then from feeling that loss daily ever since.

Having a natural birth isn’t the end all, be all for me. I know that in the case of, say, a nuchal cord or shoulder dystocia, I may need a c-section (provided my caregiver can’t figure out a good way to avoid one). Or if I go past 41 or 42 weeks, I may be advised for induction. And that if I am forced into receiving pitocin for extremely poor progress, I may be unable to handle the pain that would normally be handled by the endorphins in my system, and that I may, at that point, request pain medication.

But I also know that going in with a positive attitude and being knowledgeable can help a great deal. I know that bringing a doula with me can help me avoid medications and a c-section by helping with relaxation techniques, spinning the baby is need be, instructing me on natural induction methods, etc. I also know that were I to go the home birth route, my chances of c-section drop exponentially (since it would only occur in a real emergency – isn’t that how it SHOULD be?)

Tomorrow, I will be showing my birth plan to my OB and discussing what are my options, realistically, since every hospital has their own standards of protocol. I will, hopefully, also be speaking with a midwife regarding the possibility of home birth, even though it is fairly late in the game. And in the end, I know that regardless of where I birth, there may be things that don’t go according to plan. I am flexible, especially when it comes to the well-being of my children. But it would be a lie if I didn’t admit that my new birth experience will certainly be a rite-of-passage for me, a re-birth for myself as a new mother once again, as someone who has fought hard to get to this point, and who doesn’t mind experiencing pain to feel alive again.

Gun Nuts, Responsible Ownership, and The Case For Moving Out of the U.S.

The United States has the highest rate of gun related injuries (not deaths per capita) among developed countries, though it also has the highest rate of gun ownership and the highest rate of officers

- from the Wikipedia page on “Gun violence”

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A former professor of mine posted this link today, which cites studies on something that should be fairly obvious: Guns in the home raise suicide, homicide risk. I don’t see how anyone could really argue with this, although I’m sure many are already up in arms about it.

The past few years, we’ve seen a lot of debate about gun control laws, to the point that people have become especially paranoid about having their guns taken away (just Google “gun control” and you’ll find a slew of articles on all side of the spectrum regarding the matter). Especially in the light of tragic events like school shootings, there seems to be more bad blood between those who think gun laws should be tighter, and those who want to feel free to carry their guns on them 24/7 everywhere they go.

I didn’t grow up in a household with a gun, so maybe that’s why gun ownership feels so foreign to me. We never really felt the need to have one. There were no immediate threats to our family. We didn’t live in an especially rough neighborhood. We didn’t have any violent enemies. And it just didn’t seem like a hobby my parents cared much for, nor could they afford such a luxury – bullets and guns are expensive!

It wasn’t until I reached my twenties that I first even saw a gun first hand, or held one, or shot one. My ex’s army-vet brother had returned from Iraq and wanted to take us to the gun range. I did feel a little out of my comfort zone at first holding the piece, but I did have fun at the range. I can see why people enjoy shooting them. Guns can make you feel powerful. And shooting can be kind of cathartic. You zone out of the rest of the world and focus on what you’re shooting. And yeah, it feels good.

After going shooting, I wasn’t fully convinced I’d want to actually invest money in a gun. And years later, I’m still not sure whether or not I’d want one. Weeks shy of becoming a full-fledged parent, now I know even less whether or not I’d want to have one in the house. My husband and I have briefly touched on it, but neither of us are all that into guns (or weaponry in general) enough to justify that kind of expenditure AND responsibility.

And I think that’s what concerns me. Owning a gun isn’t just about owning a gun, it’s about taking on a new responsibility, and it often feels like people don’t see it that way. Some people buy guns the way kids buy toys. They just want to collect and have them. But if all gun-owners were full responsible for their ownership of these devices, which can yield deadly results, then perhaps we wouldn’t have so many accidental fatalities. This NY Times piece from last year discusses one of the many problems with irresponsible gun ownership: the accidental fatalities cause by children with access to guns, and the way in which these statistics have been skewed to be seen as homicides rather than accidents (seen as negligence causing homicide) when really, maybe they should be counted as both. These cases don’t just happen in lower-socio-economic situations, either. They happen across the board. People keep their guns under the mattress, and are somehow surprised their 6-year-old found it. I don’t quite get what planet these people live on.

And then of course there are older children and teenagers who actively search for the guns they know their parents own. They’re curious, or maybe they’re depressed, or they’re angry and know someone they want to shoot. I was still in middle school when the Columbine shooting happened. Those kids got their weapons outside of the home, granted, but the way they were still easily able to obtain them is outright scary.

What’s also scary is that when I was 14, I saw the shooting and didn’t really blame them. I knew they’d been bullied and were seen as outcasts and I completely understood their anger. I was going through my own problems at school, also being tormented by some of my peers. It’s entirely possible that, had I had easy access to a gun, especially one in my home, that I might have considered taking a gun to school, or even taking my own life since I battled with depression often enough. And I know I’m not the first person to feel this way. In 2012, there was a shooting in Ohio where a teenage boy stole a gun from his uncle’s house and took it to school, killing two students and injuring several others. That’s just one of so many other cases. There’s also the case of Nick Kelo, 13, who commit suicide by using a gun after being bullied for being perceived as gay. The gun he obtained was in his own home, locked in a safe, but apparently not so difficult to crack since he got it anyway.

And that’s the scary thing. Even if you’re attempting to be responsible, sometimes it’s just not enough. Or you might be responsible, but your child’s friend’s parents keep their guns around the house and easily accessible. Or they know someone else they can buy them from. With all this knowledge, I just can’t understand people who get so bent out of shape when stricter gun laws are suggested.

gun-rights-rally-in-trenton-3cc9fee804c5bedc

By the same token, though, considering how gun-crazed our country is compared with the majority of other countries, how safe will it be in the future to not own a firearm? When the people who compare Obama to Hitler and Castro and Stalin  end up with more weaponry than those of us who realize what a fallacious statement that is, what’s going to happen?

I wish I could say that people are going to become enlightened, compassionate individuals overnight. That the bullying will stop. That irresponsibility will end. That people will stop feeling the need to buy and own guns, and only rent them at gun ranges when they feel like blowing off some steam. Or better still, that life would be so good they wouldn’t even feel the need for that. But I should keep on dreaming. My kid is about to come into a world where school shootings are common place, where gun culture is all the rage, where ignorance is prevalent, especially in the media in which he’ll be bombarded with images of violence.

There are 88.8 guns per 100 people in the US versus 30.8/100 in Canada, 6.2/100 in the UK, 5/100 in Morocco and only .6 guns per 100 people in Japan. I don’t think I’ll be buying a gun anytime soon. I’m holding out in the hopes of things either getting better, or, more likely, moving to any of the countless other countries who aren’t so obsessed with firearms.

Film Review: Exploring Gender, Race, and Chiptunes in “Spork”

Spork

A modern twist on the usual adolescent outcast films, Spork quickly differentiates itself within the first few minutes, revealing that we’re not just dealing with the usual shy, nerdy kid looking to fit in. Savannah Stehlin stars as Spork, an awkward, girl-identifying hermaphrodite that gets picked on daily and has an obsession with The Wiz (which she mistakenly believes is the original Wizard of Oz for much of the movie).

Her home life is trailer trash messy, being raised by her seemingly low life older brother after the death of their mother (who’s buried outside their trailer under a grave marked “Mommy”). She’s got one good friend (although she doesn’t realize the depth of their friendship till later), her booty dance-and-Afro-Sheen-obsessed next-door neighbor, Tootsie Roll, who most likely got the name from the 1994 69Boyz song by the same name. To say that every character in this movie has some interesting quirks is an understatement. There’s Betsy Byotch, a true “mean girl” blonde who idolizes the early career of Britney Spears; Chunk, an overweight Asian kid who also gets picked on but doesn’t give a fuck; and Charlie, a scrawny kid with two gay dads who’s straight by his own admission, despite his love of Dorothy.

The aptly named Betsy Byotch has it out for Spork and is determined to make her life hell at all costs, especially after Spork ends up hitting her in the face with a basketball. Meanwhile, Tootsie Roll is looking to enter a school dance off to raise money to go see her incarcerated daddy, but ends up breaking her leg while practicing. Spork decides to enter the contest herself in hopes of a) winning the prize money and b) humiliating and defeating arch-nemesis Betsy. And there are other things that happen, but I don’t want to give it all away in case the premise intrigues you.

While the movie initially reminded me of Welcome to the Dollhouse, it’s much quirkier and upbeat, and much less uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure this is the first movie I’ve ever seen that features a hermaphroditic character, which I feel is pretty positive since my initial Google search of “hermaphrodites in movies” only yields pornographic results. Spork obviously identifies as female in the film, and I like the fact that it’s not really questioned by anyone else what she’s chosen to identify as.

It also addresses the way in which adolescent kids might react to finding out a classmate is a hermaphrodite. There are comments made now and again by Betsy and her mean girl friends in regards to seeing Spork’s genitalia, trying to humiliate Spork by exposing her at one point. I don’t doubt that a child who was hermaphroditic would experience the same kind of narrow-minded bullying within the confines of middle school.

But the great thing is that, aside from the mean girls, no one else really seems to care much about Spork’s body, sex, or gender, although I’m not sure if it’s because they just don’t really know. Charlie and Spork even hit it off after a while, although Charlie, being open-minded as he is, still harbors a bit of homophobia within him, acting genuinely insulted when Spork assumes he’s gay, and even overcompensating for his femininity by talking about “how much pussy he gets” to the other boys in his class (who obviously don’t buy it).

Tootsie Roll might be my favorite character in the whole movie, and I honestly think she could have had her own starring role rather than serving as the black, supportive friend of Spork. Tootsie’s got tons of energy and personality and truly doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She stands up for Spork because she is her neighbor and friend, and even brings Spork into her own social circle successfully, despite early protests from her friends about Spork being white.

On a final note, if you’ve never heard any chiptune music before, this is the movie to introduce it to you. Also known as 8-bit music, it’s basically a splicing of sounds from video games and old-school computers and sounds pretty rad.

The movie gets a little slow at times and to be honest, it doesn’t go far enough with the plot, but it was still entertaining.

Rating: 7.5/10

#FeministFriday: On Being Even More Pro-Choice After Losing A Child

For as long as I can remember, I have always been pro-choice. Even growing up Catholic*, there was never a time I thought that I should have the right to stop a woman from deciding whether or not she wanted to have children. I can’t really say when I first heard the words, “Pro-Choice” or “Pro-Life/Anti-Choice”, but I suppose it doesn’t matter.

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I’ve never had an abortion myself, although I’ve considered it on several occasions, both at times I just believed I might be pregnant and times when I was actually pregnant. In the past, I’ve taken the Plan B pill and had it work effectively so that I never had to come to that decision. Practicing safe sex and/or being on birth control for a large portion of my teens and twenties certainly helped in avoiding unwanted pregnancy. I’ve been lucky to grow up at a time when sex ed was mandatory in schools (perhaps not the most comprehensive sex ed, but they really drilled condom use into my head which I think is awesome!), in a city where condoms could easily be procured free of charge at the university clinic, and among women who decided early on to take charge of their sexuality and reproductive options. I don’t assume it’s like that everywhere or for everyone.

I’ve been pregnant only twice, once in 2012 and my current pregnancy. I will admit that both times, I highly considered terminating my pregnancies. The first time I got pregnant, I had only known my boyfriend (who is now my husband) for about two months. I’ll be honest in saying that we weren’t being very safe. But I was also no longer a seventeen-year-old girl, or even an early twenties college kid. We were both adults (I in my late twenties and he in his early thirties), both working, both very much in love. And while I had never really seen myself going through with being a mother, I had sometimes toyed with the idea. When the plastic pee stick sealed my fate, though, I knew I was anything but ready. It took me a few days to decide whether I wanted to keep the pregnancy. It took me a few more weeks after that to decide if my decision to keep it was ultimately for the best.  And honestly, it took months before I realized that I was actually excited at the prospect of being a mother.

When I went into labor early at 22 weeks, though, everything came crashing down.

Now, 22 weeks gestation is what is considered a “gray area” of viability. A fetus might survive out of the womb by or before 21 weeks, but the chances are incredibly slim. The odds of survival increase with every passing day and week of pregnancy, going from 10-35% at 23 weeks to 80-90% at 26 weeks and over 98% at 34 weeks.

When my daughter was born, the neonatologist hit us with the cold, hard facts we didn’t want to hear. Her chances of survival at just 22 weeks were at about 10% at most, and even then, she had a high probability of having many physical and mental challenges later in life, were she to survive for longer than a few hours, days, years. It was not what I wanted to hear at all, but at the same time, I didn’t want her to endure a lifetime (however short it might be) of suffering. While her death is the most difficult thing I have ever had to endure, I was, in part, relieved that she did not have to experience much pain for long.

Some time after her death, I remember thinking about abortion, particularly, about late-term abortions. I thought about what it must be like to go through with an abortion after you’d felt the fetus kick. I thought about what it must be like for someone to abort a a fetus the same gestational age as my deceased child, or even later, when the fetus might survive. There were moments that it made me completely ill to think of my own daughter in a trash can, even though I knew that wasn’t the case. I felt the grip of the pro-life movement creeping up behind me, but knew better than to allow it to take hold.

It’s difficult to lose a pregnancy you wanted. It’s especially difficult to lose a child you’ve grown to love, whom you’ve named, whom you’ve birthed. There comes a point in time in pregnancy where you decide to either continue to call what’s in your uterus a fetus or if you decide to switch to calling it a baby. Personally, I believe it’s subjective and a matter of what you choose for yourself. I spent the first few months of my pregnancy saying fetus, and only until I hit around 3 or 4 months did I finally call it a baby. This is a personal matter to be decided by the pregnant woman alone about what is happening in and to her body, and not something that should be judged by anyone else. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding personhood and what is considered a “baby” or a “life”, and these are matters which I believe should not be intertwined with laws, and which should NOT be used to manipulate the law to fulfill some kind of moral agenda (a quick Google search brings me to the following links : Baby vs. fetus: a question of morality, not terminology versus Personhood: Is a Fetus a Human Being? just so you get an idea of the opposite sides of the spectrum).

I also recognize how difficult it is to find yourself pregnant when you don’t want to be, when you’re either not ready, or have been raped, or have no support, are suffering from an illness or know the fetus is likely to have genetic deformations, or do not ever want to be a mother, or whatever other circumstances you find yourself in. There are SO many reasons why women have abortions, either early or late term. Although it was difficult to think about right after the death of my daughter, every time I do think about late-term abortion now, I think about how I felt when I was first pregnant, and how I would have felt had I been pregnant when I was younger or with other partners, when I would have very likely gone ahead with an abortion.

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Pregnancy is NOT easy. Not by a long shot. And the only person at the end of the day that should be making decisions about a pregnancy is the pregnant woman herself. No one else can even come close to understanding what is happening to that woman’s body, what is going through her mind, what her experiences have been. And yet, we so often have so many others, namely so many men, trying to create and force laws on the bodies of women. So while yes, it was difficult for me at first to think of abortion right after my own loss, if anything, I feel that it made me even MORE pro-choice because now I finally understood what it was like to be pregnant. Just this past Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee (composed of ALL males) passed an anti-choice bill (HR7) which, among other things, denies women on Medicaid any federal insurance coverage to an abortion, except in cases of rape, wherein the IRS could then come in and audit the rape victims. And if you do a quick search about what else is going on with abortion right now, you’ll find a slew of other news stories, because the fact is, reproductive choice and reproductive health is CONSTANTLY under attack:

And so on.

When I became pregnant again last year, our situation was still less than ideal. It was a surprise, once more, and I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to face the possibility of going through another pregnancy and potentially losing another child. I made calls to various clinics and was overwhelmed by the high cost of abortion, which made me realize why so many women end up having later abortions (who has that kind of money just lying around? Not to mention having to potentially take time off work, which means an even higher cost to your livelihood.) I spent some time thinking about whether it was even what I wanted to do. I researched the procedures. I had conversations with friends. I thought and thought and thought, and finally decided I wanted to give it another go at pregnancy.

It hasn’t been so easy this time around, but now that I’m almost at 35 weeks, I’m breathing a lot easier. But just because I CHOSE to continue my pregnancy doesn’t mean I would ever force MY choice on anyone else. The beauty of being pro-choice is exactly that: having a choice on what happens to you and your body and your future.

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The anti-choice movement only believes they know what’s best for you, and that what’s best is to continue to force women to go through harmful pregnancies (harmful because an unwanted pregnancy will put the woman through physical and psychological trauma) only to then have these women either give up the kid (which can cause even MORE damage to the woman, and now also damage to this new human being who is obviously not being adopted right away by all the Republican politicians who forced him or her into existence in the first place) or force them into being mothers when they never wanted to be (thus causing even FURTHER harm to these women whose lives are now forever changed, and god knows what harm to these kids since they may end up neglected or worse).

I will continue to fight for the rights of women in whatever ways I can in the future. I’ll fight for all the friends I’ve known who have had abortions, and for all the women I don’t know having to make that very difficult decision for themselves, and for myself because I’m only 29 and just because I’m having a child now doesn’t mean I will always want to have one in the future, and in the memory of my daughter because she would have deserved to live in a society where she was free to make decisions for her body herself, and for my future son, because reproductive health for women affects us all, and should he find himself in a difficult situation with a woman in his life in the future, I would want him to be the kind of man that recognizes the importance of a woman’s right to choose.

 

*These days I’m more of a borderline agnostic/atheist whose idea of spirituality is yoga, a good massage, and a tasty craft beer, or some time in nature works, too.

One Word for 2014: Wealth

Snagged this idea from a fellow writer/blogger, Megan Whitmer, who did a vlog suggesting everyone pick one word to focus on for the year. She suggested this in lieu of resolutions, but I’m a resolution junkie so I already wrote those. Still, I think having one main word to focus on daily might help in other ways.

My word of the year is going to be: Wealth. Now, I know that might sound a bit self-serving, but hear me out. This isn’t just about money (although that IS one of the factors).

Wealth of Love: Being wealthy in love means investing in it and succeeding in it. I wrote about wanting to be a better/awesome friend, relative, wife, and mother in my resolutions, and this speaks to that. The more I invest in my personal relationships, the bigger the return (hopefully).

Wealth of Health: I just spent the past two days being unable to eat properly and with my head constantly in the toilet. Pregnancy has kicked my ass just a bit, and I’m hoping that motherhood doesn’t kick my ass too badly when it comes to my health. While I anticipate catching something at some point, I really want to be healthier in general. I want to be one of those folks who rarely if ever gets sick. I want 2014 to lack in hospital stays and bed rest and gain in running 5Ks and lots and lots of yoga and a heavier transition into vegan eating rather than junk vegetarianism (pizza and chips and cookies, oh boy).

Wealth of Finances: The Law of Attraction basically states that you get back what you give, or “like attracts like.” I was reading about it in one of my childbirth books recently in regards to maintaining a positive attitude about your birthing experience so you might actually end up with a positive experience. They mention people who are constantly saying they’ll never be able to afford things and who are always discussing how broke they are and how this can often be a self-fulfilling prophecy, dooming people into a lifetime of poverty. Honestly, I’m sick of struggling. I’m sick of how hard it is to make ends meet. I want my husband and I to both be successful, as well as the rest of my family. So I’m trying to put myself in a much more positive state of mind while still hunting ways to make money and save money for our new family.

Wealth of Joy: This also has to do with Law of Attraction. I’ve been (and been around) so much negativity in recent years that I know it’s begun to take a toll on me emotionally and spiritually. I want, instead, to focus more on being happy and joyful and at peace. I hope for and aim to be wealthy in joy this year. Not only for myself, but for those around me. Because when you’re happy, you want nothing more than to spread that joy all around. It becomes contagious. I can only hope that everyone experiences some if not LOTS of joy this year. Like Edward Furlong says at the end of American History X, “Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time.”

I’ve always thought that “wealth” had kind of a negative connotation to it. Wealthy people must be snobby and not care for others, right? Not always so. Wealthy people have an abundance of certain things, and if you’re wealthy in all these areas, I’d just say you are a fortunate person.

Will you be choosing a word to focus on this year? Let me know!

#FeministFriday: Reflections On My Brief Career as a Porn Editor

Let me preface all this by saying that I personally am not an anti-porn feminist. In fact, I like porn. Always have. I recall reading Andrea Dworkin back in college and not really agreeing with all of her views. I personally don’t believe all pornography is necessarily harmful toward women, and considering rape has existed for quite a long time (possibly, and sadly, since there were human beings on the planet), I don’t feel that pornography is to blame or that it has even caused a rise in rape.

That being said, these days, pornography is everywhere and I do feel that too much porn can lead to very bad things, usually in terms of numbing people to non-porn-based arousal. Just yesterday, this article discussed internet porn addiction from the perspective of a former addict (worth a read if you’ve ever found yourself unable to get off with a partner and only able to get aroused with porn. It happens to many fairly often).

Additionally, I do think that there is a lot of problematic porn out there, simply because there still isn’t enough variety. Obviously, there are some people who are trying to bring different kinds of porn to fruition (like Tristan Taormino’s feminist porn), and this is a great thing. I grew up watching soft-core Skinemax and Playboy in my younger years (which was obviously focused on the female, but didn’t really have much in the way of overly degrading behaviors), and then later in life, hunting down free videos which opened my eyes to a world that is often way more violent toward women than I’m comfortable with (and I’m anything but a vanilla sex kind of gal).

Still, so long as these are consenting adults in these videos (like the actors on Kink.com who are into some stuff that’s pretty extreme by my standards but which some individuals genuinely enjoy), who am I to stop people from doing or watching these things? I just prefer more variety, more porn that depicts women getting off as frequently as men, more real lesbian porn (it’s been my experience that women don’t finger each other while wearing huge press-on nails, but any women out there that disagree, please comment) and maybe not always getting cum on their faces and mouths (though sometimes is fine). Basically, stuff that more closely resembles the great variety of real life sex that goes on in all our bedrooms (and kitchens and cars and bathrooms and other places, if you’re the adventurous type).

Now, like many women, I went to work in the adult industry because I was broke. I never took any sexy photos of myself or disrobed for any cameras. Rather, I was hired on as an assistant editor for various niche magazines and websites. It was January of 2013 and my friend who had been working there five years recommended I apply. I got the job no problem. I did, however, feel a bit conflicted as a feminist starting a job in the porn field. Not only would I have to hide this from my very conservative family, I was also now contributing to the objectification of women (because no matter how much I enjoy it at times, I recognize porn objectifies people, especially women). I’d been working in the non-profit industry just two years earlier and hoping to finally find a new non-profit gig where I would be helping women and girls, yet this was the only real, quick option available to me and as were under financial duress, I did what I had to do.

When I went into the office that first day, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect. I’d seen samples of the company’s work beforehand, and it seemed tamer than a lot of the stuff I’ve seen out on the internet, which made me happy. I would later find out that our particular company was very strict about what we would publish in terms of anything particularly “degrading” (the language was closely monitored to ensure nothing appeared too “rapey” or insulting to the models, the male performers were fairly tame in their actions towards the women, etc.) This brought me great relief.

At the start, I mostly worked on a teen girl magazine and also assisted on some of the MILF magazines. They were two very different niches to write for. My biggest issue with the teen girl mag was that it often felt as though the girls shouldn’t just be resembling teenagers, but early-pubescent girls. Our models were mostly coveted if they were completely flat and looking exceptionally young. I could only imagine who our target audience was, but in the office, it was one of those things you just didn’t question. Still, we were to make sure we always stated these girls were 18 or older, that they couldn’t possibly be younger than high school seniors or college freshmen, and apparently at one point there was a ban on pigtails for fear of legal action, if that gives you any indication of what we were producing there.

On the flip side, the MILF magazines featured mature women who seemed to be beyond thrilled to get naked for the camera. I often found myself transcribing their interviews, and it was interesting to hear them discuss their sexuality at length and with such enthusiasm, something that isn’t usually heard uttered by women in their fifties, sixties, and even seventies! Some of them were former (or current) strippers, and many were swingers, but a lot of them had just been moms (and grandmoms) and wives who one day decided they wanted to do porn. For them, it wasn’t about the money, but about the power they felt they had over others viewing and getting turned on by their naked bodies. So could this be viewed as feminist porn or empowering for these older women in some way? I wondered. Maybe. Then again, a lot of them came in with their boyfriends or husbands as well, who wanted to watch their ladies get nailed by other men or women (or both). A few of the models even mentioned they were doing it to please their men. Maybe it was just another way these women were being objectified for the pleasure of their partners. I don’t think there’s a blanket answer for this.

We had other niches at the company, including one for extremely large-breasted women (we’re not talking D cups here, but more like double-G’s and beyond), one for very curvy women, one for extra-curvy girls (often called “plumpers”), one for leg and foot fetishes (which I became editor for later on), one for girl-next-door types (which I also edited alone), and one for big-booty girls (mainly African American, but we also included some Latina and White women). Working in these niches granted me access to a wide variety of porn that I don’t think I ever would have seen otherwise (I’m pretty sure few people know what a 70-year-old creampie looks like). It opened my mind up to the porn industry in general in that we were giving focus to bodies that are not typically seen as the ideal “sexy” woman in standard pornography. So maybe just slightly feminist in that respect.

It did, however, have some negatives to it as well. Staring at and writing about porn daily had a detrimental effect on my libido. Not too terribly, but it was definitely noticeable. I also began to just feel lousy in general that I was still making money off the exploitation of women, even if they were paid models. The office was also mostly composed of males, although interestingly enough, most of the studio employees were female. Still, in the end, it wasn’t my cup of tea. Had it been a clearly feminist porn company, I may have felt differently. In the end, I was let go due to complications with my pregnancy. Perhaps if there had been more women calling the shots, this wouldn’t have happened, but that’s neither here nor there.

Would I work in porn again? Most likely not. But at least it gave me some perspective on the inner workings of the industry, and it’ll make for an interesting and potentially awkward conversation the day my son finds out what I was doing around the time he was conceived.

 

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How I Learned To Love My Nose (Or At Least Stop Hating It So Much)

When I was about 14 years old, I begged my mother to take me to see a plastic surgeon about my nose. In my eyes, there was something terribly, awfully, horribly wrong with my thick, large, Roman nose. It was something that could be fixed, though, provided I went to the right doctor to “fix” me.

I’m not quite sure when I first began to notice, and later obsess over, my nose, but it was probably sometime in middle school. Middle school was the time when people, mainly boys, began to make comments that led me to believe there was something “wrong” with my body. I didn’t shave my legs until I was well into my thirteenth year, and kids at school wouldn’t let me live that down. From there, I had really crooked teeth. And when I finally went and got braces, it was also bad that I had braces. I was too skinny and I had acne and my hair was way too frizzy and I had no tits. And then of course I found out my arms were also too damn hairy, so eventually I decided to take a razor to them and spent the next 3 or 4 years shaving my arms and legs (I have since stopped shaving my arms because frankly, I don’t give a fuck anymore).

But my nose was by far my biggest obsession. I would spend hours at night trying to “massage” it upward, so that it would turn up like Meg Ryan’s “cute, button nose”. I stared at photos of women in magazines, fawning over how small their noses were and how they didn’t have a “big, ugly bump” on them. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade for seeing the board from far away, but it was middle school that caused me to become a full-time bespectacled teen. The way I saw it, the glasses kind of hid the bump on my nose. So although I couldn’t make my nose smaller, at least I could hide some of it’s “imperfections”.

And so, at the ripe, old age of 14, my mom and I paid a visit to a local plastic surgeon. He was surprised to see me, and seemed to feel I was a bit young for plastic surgery. He took a look at my shnaz and proceeded to explain that I was still growing, and that getting surgery for it now might not be ideal. But when you’re 14, time is of the essence. There is no time to wait. Jonathan would only be in my Drama class for a few more months, and I knew he wouldn’t look at me until I got my nose fixed. And all the cool rocker kids in high school were never going to want to hang out with my unless I did something about the way I looked before I got there. Right? Right?

I brought pictures of women’s noses with me so the doctor could see what I wanted to look like. My idea nose belonged to a young Kate Beckinsale, whom I first saw in the Branagh adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing:

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Why couldn’t I have just been born looking like her? I wondered, more often than anyone ever should. The doc realized there was no talking me out of this, so he began explaining what the procedure would entail, the different ways he could “fix” my nose, and also that there was no real way of knowing why I would look like by the end of it. This news vexed me a bit. I wanted her nose, but really, I would still have my own nose, just a different version of it. Also, he said it would cost $2,000 or so.

I went home frustrated. My mother tried to calm me down. She told me my nose was just fine and that I should stop worrying about it so much. And surprisingly, I did. Some months later, I went to high school and realized my nose wasn’t that big a deal. As I got older, I still didn’t like my nose, but I learned to deal with it. I had one asshole boyfriend at one point who saw me with my glasses off once and cringed and asked me to put them back on. That relationship obviously didn’t last. But wouldn’t you know it, I later heard from others that they liked me even more without my glasses on. Fast forward to today and my husband often takes me glasses off my face to look at my face and stare into my eyes. He’s even asked me why I don’t consider getting contacts. I am not just a nose to him. I’m not just a nose to anyone.

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It’s not even about getting validation from another person, although I can’t say it doesn’t help. Girls (and boys) grow up constantly being bombarded with images of physical beauty and “perfection” which frankly does not exist. We are made to feel ashamed, not only by the media, but by our own peers. If there’s one thing we need to do, it’s remind people that they are beautiful and wonderful and strong and courageous and awesome just the way they are. If they choose to change something about themselves, it should be because they seriously want it for themselves, and not to please others or to fit into what they believe is the physical being they “should” be. I’ve thought back a few times to that day in the plastic surgeons office. What if our finances had been different? What if my mother had encouraged me to get the surgery rather than to wait and think some more (her way of gently getting me to forget it, which worked)? Who knows.

All I know is that I’m happy to have this nose. It’s my nose. It’s a perfectly good nose. Sure, it’s not Kate Beckinsale’s nose, but so what? Maybe if I had seen more girls that looked like me, who had frizzy hair and crooked teeth and bumps on their noses on TV and on posters and in magazines, I wouldn’t have been so freaked out about what I looked like. And that’s what the #365feministselfie project is about. So for today’s image, I decided to take some photos of myself, my nose featured prominently, sans glasses. Love it, hate it, I don’t care. Here’s to all the ladies who’ve felt ashamed about their looks at any point in time, who might still occasionally feel some embarrassment or awkwardness about their physical features. Let’s flaunt what we got and stop hiding already.

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New Year’s Resolutions: My Ass-Kicking Goals For 2014

It’s the first of the year and like many others, I’ve got plenty of “It’s A Brand New Year and It’s Going To Be AWESOME!” sentiments floating about, which are prompting me to write up this list of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve got a general idea of how I’d like this year to turn out. It’s not going to be easy, by any means. We’ve got a baby on the way, due in just a few more weeks, and I know that’s going to change our lives more than anything else. I’m not going to punish myself by creating too many specific resolutions that’ll be impossible to keep up with, especially once I’m more sleep deprived and physically exhausted than ever before. Instead, I’m just going to outline some general goals for myself and work toward making them reality as frequently and as successfully as possible.

 

Writing Goals

Write a Little Bit Every Single Day.

I’ve got a few tools under my belt to keep me on task for this:

One is the new journal I picked up from the Dollar Store recently that I’m keeping next to my bed. When I was younger, I had a tendency to journal my life daily, but I’ve since given up, thinking maybe it’s too self-indulgent. But really, it’s no more self-indulgent than writing a blog or being on social media, so fuck it. I’m keeping it near my bed (or in my purse when I go out) to jot down a few things each day.

The second is the MicroJournal app on my phone. It only allows for 100 characters, so it’s even shorter than a Tweet, but unlike Twitter, I don’t have to think about who might look at this. It’s proving useful so far, and when I do write something I think may be worth sharing, it has a share option anyway.

The third is the #WriteChain Challenge on Twitter. You set a goal for how much constitutes a “link” in your writing chain (say anything from 100 words to 10,000 words a day) and you post your results each day you complete a new link. If you miss a day, you have to start over, but that’s okay! Sometimes it happens, and you just pick yourself up and keep writing. I’m starting a new chain myself today and hope I can make it through the month without missing a link.

Blog Regularly

I’ve been getting better at this, and I’ve been working on my blogging calendar now to make sure I at least have certain prompts for myself when I can’t think of what to update. One feature I want to include is using the #feministfriday tag for blogging about all sorts of rad feminist stuff on Fridays. It probably won’t happen every single week, but I’d like to save this space to make sure I begin to develop my feminist voice even more, thinking more critically about feminist topics. I also want to post one piece of flash fiction a month (or so).

Finish and Publish My Novel

I started writing my novel during NaNoWriMo last year and while I proposed to finish it in December, it didn’t quite happen that way. Still, I got some headway on it and I want to try completing it this month before the baby is here. After that, I’ll probably take a short hiatus from looking at it and then re-read it with fresh eyes, edit the hell out of it, revise, maybe find one or two outside editors, and then once it’s polished like crazy, begin seeking out publishing options (either by finding publishers who are open to submissions or finding an agent). As a last restort, I’ll self-publish, but I think I’d like to try the other route first. I’ll be blogging about the process throughout the year. Oh, and also, I need to finally give my work-in-progress a title.

Send Bi-Weekly Queries/Submissions/Contest Entries

If you don’t submit your writing anywhere, you don’t get published, and you most definitely won’t get paid. I’ve recently submit two articles to XOJane.com which were both accepted. I also submit an article idea to Nerve.com which I’m pretty sure was rejected, so that’s the flip side. Doesn’t mean I can’t/won’t try again, though. I want to submit to lit journals, websites, anywhere and everywhere. I need to get my words, my writing, and my name out there and this is the best way to go about it. Guest blogging is another way to accomplish this. I’m hoping to try and send work out every other week, but again, room for flexibility here.

 

Life Goals

Become Awesome at Being a Mom

I know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s pretty damn important I kick ass as much as possible in this new role I’m taking on. Rearing tiny humans can’t be easy, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that soon enough. Ways I plan to kick ass? Not give up on breastfeeding unless I exhaust all my options and still am physically unable to. I’d just like to say that there’s nothing wrong with women who prefer not to go this route, but this is the route I’d like to take with my son. Also, be attentive as fuck. I’m not a fan of the “cry it out” mentality, and although I hate giving it a name, I suppose the closest thing to what my parenting “style” will be is “attachment parenting” (at least, from what I understand about it so far). My son’s getting lot and lots of love and care and instant attention as an infant because I believe that’s what’s best for him. We’re going to have him sleeping next to us in his bassinet at arm’s reach. And at some point, I’d like to shift over to cloth diapering once I’ve gotten used to having a baby and diapering in general (especially since I’ve never, ever changed a diaper in my life. I know, it’s going to be a rude ass awakening). Mostly, I’m going to forgive myself in advance for all the times I’m going to feel tired and stressed out and like I can’t do it anymore, because I know that’s going to happen. Maybe I’ll come back to read this to remind myself that I CAN do this, and that I am awesome for giving so much to this one special, little individual.

Be an Awesome Wife

I’m pretty sure I do well in this department, though you’d have to ask my husband to be certain. Relationships are awesome, but as we all know, they can also be work at times, work that you totally love, but still, work. John and I have been through hell and back in the year we’ve been married and I don’t doubt the ups and downs will continue, but so far, so good. My goal is to keep the lines of communication open between us, to keep showing him how much I care and love and support him, to surprise him now and again so things don’t get stale, to show him how much I appreciate the things he does for me. Also, I’d like to get serious about planning a small wedding for us. We didn’t really get that chance last year, and after losing Maggie, I don’t think either of us cared to think about anything like a big party for a while. But now that we’ll have our son, I think it’d be a blast to get our closest friends and relatives together for one big shindig. And a honeymoon some months to a year post-baby would probably be beyond amazing.

Be an Awesome Friend (and Relative)

I miss my friends more than I should. I know this is going to keep happening the older I get, the more settled in married life I become, and the more wrapped up I end up in motherhood. But I’d like to make sure that I don’t completely lose touch with all these people who have meant so much, who mean so much to me, regardless of how much our lives are shifting on the daily.

Ways to combat this?

  • Write personal messages, e-mails, handwritten letters, and postcard: I’d like to develop direct lines of communication with those I’m closest to. Hopefully they feel the same way. I’ll even add a few phone calls in there, although I personally have a great dislike of phone conversations these days.
  • Bi-weekly to Monthly Social Outings: I need to make sure I see friends and family and engage with them at a minimum of once a month. Even if it’s just attending a birthday or meeting for lunch or coffee or having someone over, anything would help.
  • Seek out new friendships: I love the friends I currently have, but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t use more, especially in the way of writer friends and feminist pals. So far my only way of finding any of these has been online, which is fine. Eventually, would be nice to attend some Meetups or something where I could find more of these folks as well. I’ll also be in dire need of more mommy-friends once the baby is here, so I’ll definitely want to find some of those as well since most of my close friends don’t have kids.

Move Out of Miami

We really, really, really don’t want to raise our son here, despite having some family and friends here. Ideally, we would like to move out West (California) or North (New York). It’s going to be a real challenge with a new baby, but we’ve got our sights set on providing a better life for our kiddo and neither of us feel that it will happen here. Even if it takes all year to save up and plan for it, this is something that we both feel needs to happen. If we end up moving back to Central Florida first for a while, so be it, but mostly we would like out of the state of Florida for more reasons than I care to get into here.

Develop My Career (Read: MAKE MONEY)

This could mean one of many things:

  • Find an awesome new job in writing, publishing, and/or nonprofit.
  • Go back to school, get my Master’s degree (pay for it somehow), become a professor.
  • Become a kick-ass writer from home.

We’ll just have to see which option takes first and best.

 

Personal Growth Goals

Read More.

I’d love to aim for a book a month, but I’ll settle for just more reading in general. Follow me on GoodReads if you’ve got reading suggestions for me or just want to talk book-stuff. I should really spend more time there and less time on Facebook…

Learn More.

I’m currently teaching myself French and German (well, brushing up on French since I’ve taken several semester in the past, and learning German). Other things I’d like to learn this year: how to ride a bike (I started to last year but then got pregnant), how to cook well (I’ve lost all my veggie cooking skills these past few years), how to knit (I have some supplies for this…), how to draw better (I’ve got a sketch book that needs filling up!), how to use an SLR properly (I rely on automatic way too much), etc.

Practice Yoga and Meditate More Frequently.

I basically have to right now if I want to be prepared for the natural /no-intervention childbirth I’m hoping for, but I’d really like to find myself as a more active yogi by end of year. Nothing makes me feel better than spending time stretching, breathing, and sitting in silence, contemplating everything and nothing at once. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Get Pre-Pregnancy Healthy.

After experiencing two back-to-back pregnancies, my body has been put through the wringer. I don’t think I look or even feel all that badly right now, but I’d like to get to the point I was at before pregnancy, or even improve upon that. It’s not so much about just being “lighter”, but about eating well and having more energy. Baby comes first, of course, but I hope to start doing some jogging (maybe even enter a 5k or two) this year. Obviously the yoga will help if I’m consistent. Continue eating decently (or even better). Look good and feel good for myself.

Become a Neater, More Organized Person

Because my son deserves to not have two slobs for parents. We’re working on getting our shit together and keeping house. Advice for messy people is always welcome here, FYI.

Give Back and Be a Better Human

I haven’t been as giving or as thoughtful to the world at large in the past year or so, for x, y, and z reasons. I normally love participating in things like beach clean-ups and charity walks and donating old clothes and whatnot, so I think it’s a good a time as any to give back.

One way will be donating Baby Boy’s clothes to my local women’s shelter as he outgrows it. I’ll keep a couple I’m sure for sentimental reasons, but I know these women’s babies could use new outfits, too. I’ll also be donating most if not all my maternity clothes once I start shrinking back down in size.

JB’s always talking about feeding the homeless (and he has personally taken it upon himself to give an individual in need a meal before), but I think it’d be great if we could take part in or even organize an event for this.

I’d love to volunteer my time for progressive movements, and I’ve developed an interest in helping out in a political campaign, so I may see if I’m able to help in some way since elections will be coming up soon enough.

I also need to be less wasteful. Our laziness has really got us by a stranglehold and we’ve taken to using plastic cutlery and plates and cups more often than we should. We also waste a lot of electricity (which isn’t great for the electric bill, either). I really want to make a more conscious effort to combat these problems. Which brings me to another resolution.

Save Your Money!

We’ve been way too spend-happy, especially this past holiday. I’m creating some budgets to help us with all this. We can no longer afford to be careless with our finances, especially with a little one depending on us for, well, everything. Couponing, anyone?

Re-Discover Feminism

This kind of includes lots of my other resolutions, like my #FeministFriday blog posts and reading more (including more feminist books) and connecting with more feminists in person and online. I’m also participating in the #365FeministSelfie photo challenge as detailed in Viva La Feminista’s blog. Just posted my first one. There are more ways I’ll be rediscovering and developing my feminism, so you’ll just have to keep reading to see how it goes.

This is today’s Feminist Selfie, by the way:

Photo on 2014-01-01 at 23.26

Nothing glamorous. I hope to find ways of getting creative with self-portraiture, though, so I’m pretty damn excited to be on board with this daily challenge.

Feel free to join me on any of these resolutions if they feel right to you!

Do you have any resolutions you’d like to share or advice on sticking to resolutions in general? Comment below and Happy New Year!

Musings from a Feminist Writer and Mommy-to-Be